The harbour with its upturned boats which were used as fishermen’s huts and the castle are the iconic symbols of the island. The castle stands on a steep mound which is a natural defense. It didn’t stop Lindisfarne was invaded by the Vikings.
The sealanes between the mainland and island are treacherous for even the smallest of boats so many of the fishing boats are anchored out and accessed by rowboat. Thousands of seals occupy the sandbanks looking like little rocks out there. The Causeway which is clear under the sea twice a day is equally treacherous if you’re the kind of idiot that doesn’t heed the tide timetables or leaves it ’til the last minute to cross. There have been 8 idiots this year so far, Dorothy informed us. These people have to be rescued. It costs money. It’s risky. Cars can be washed away. A safety tower has been provided so that you can watch your car being washed away if you’re an idiot.
Before the causeway was metalled the island people used to cross the snads but you had to know those sands – there is quick sand either side. In the 30’s a few islanders ran London Taxis for tourists. Nowadays day trippers come and go in coachloads and private cars so special car parks have been made to contain that influx.
A past occupant of the island was Saint Cuthbert who lived in a ‘cell’ a kind of two roomed dug-out on the island at the edge of the island, itself cut off twice a day by the tide, seen here in the third photo. He’d come from the monastry of Iona in Scotland and lived a secluded monastic life here but eventually became Bishop. When he was taken ill he lived his life out in the even greater seclusion of Inner Farne just to the south, accessible only by a very rough sea crossing. His bones now reside (I won’t say rest) in Durham Cathedral which he wouldn’t have liked one bit and I for one think it’s a pity they just couldn’t have hidden them in a secret burial place on one of the islands as he’d have wanted. He probably wouldn’t have liked this either.
A couple of tourists were filming when I took this. Little did Cuthbert suspect…
Mind you, Old Cuthbert would have been a man of the world in his times. The ecclesiastical life had to take cognisance of the political back then. This ancient Kingdom of Northumberland has been fought over borderlands of The Cheviots for centuries and it abutted the Kingdom of Dalriada to the north and east. My own town was part of that kingdom along with Iona, Mull – the divisions were not that clear and intermarrying on all sides kept the peace. I noted with interest the first time I came here that family graves on the island included my family names – notably apart from the last ‘a’ my sister’s name.
The ancient seat of the Northumbrian Kings at Bamburgh Castle is visible on the mainland. Here you can see both castles. Both are worth visiting.
And best of all:
(Please click on the photos for higher resolution.)
to be continued